Friday, February 18, 2011

The Cape Town Blues

Cape Town, South Africa

I’m way behind in posting about my travels, but I’m jumping ahead in order to share what’s been happening in the last 24 hours here. Yesterday morning we arrived in South Africa in time to see a gorgeous sunrise over the continent. Unfortunately, that was the best part of the day. The winds were too high and the sees too rough for us to dock. We paced back and forth along the coast at Cape Town all day long. At first we thought things would die down by noon, but they didn’t, they actually seemed to pick up. Then they thought maybe by the late afternoon, but no. Then they said by 8pm, but same story – no. Finally, we went to bed sure we’d be on shore by early morning. Unfortunately, we woke this morning still at sea. It was a very disappointing day. We could see Cape Town, but couldn’t get there. The waves weren’t that bad, maybe 2-4 feet, but the winds were at around 40-50 knots yesterday.

Our path during the last 24 hours

Me with Cape Town in the background

Here’s how it works when we get to a port. As we arrive a small boat comes out to greet our ship and comes along side us, our crew opens up a little platform and a local expert jumps on our ship while we are still moving. This person is called the pilot. The pilot steers our ship into the dock. Apparently, the harbor at Cape Town is very narrow and rocky so they have to be more cautious then usual when landing.

This morning when I went out I was surprised we were still at sea because the waves and wind seems rather calm to me. Of course, what do I know about steering a ship? Anyway, it’s always to the pilot’s discretion if we can land or not. From what we heard our captain was getting impatient and trying to convince them to take us in. The latest news is the pilot is coming on board that we should be landed in a couple of hours. The biggest bummer about all this is that we miss a day and a half in South Africa, which for me it was one of the ports I was most excited about. I doubt we’ll get to make up the time on the other end due to costs. We have to pay for the berth space even if we can’t get there and apparently, it costs a fortune. I just learned yesterday that it costs a half a million dollars just to fill up our gas tank!

Staring out the window, wishing we were on land

Since yesterday was an unexpected free day I took two naps, played Apples to Apples with some students, tried to repair my broken camera (with no luck), wrote on my blog, took photos (with my functional camera), and generally lazed around. Everyone was doing the same thing. I’ve never seen so many card games and board games happening at once. I think everyone had at least one nap. For the most part the students were very patient and understanding about everything. However, if we don’t get off today I think there might be a mutiny. I might even participate.

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